NO LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Dr. Walter Greason
Norristown Times Herald
19 August 2014
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is similar to St. Louis County, Missouri. Thousands of suburban communities nationwide must be on notice after the events in Ferguson over the last week. The police forces in these places have increasingly used expanded budgets since 2001 to arm themselves on an unprecedented scale. With fears about terrorism and increasing tensions over immigration, elected leaders must meet the challenge to build inclusive communities.
Start with the county jails. Administrators and guards should engage with churches and civil rights organizations to transform the family lives of current and former inmates. Communities like Trooper and school districts like Methacton must become regional leaders in reconciling the inequalities faced by young people in Norristown and Pottstown. With a sustained engagement to this process, tragic tensions around law enforcement will decrease.
Look at the regional malls. Some of the most organized corporate citizens operate in King of Prussia and Plymouth Meeting. These voices of successful, commercial leaders can create local expectations of transparency and accountability that dismantle the structures of injustice seen in nearly every suburb. Without constant coordination between capital innovators and civil rights activists, anger and resentment build, and vulnerable youth like Mike Brown will die.
Virtually no local government coordinates these coalitions in the American suburbs. In Ferguson, in Norristown, in Anaheim, in Asbury Park – these interventions have cost countless lives and may save innumerable more, if there is immediate change. Over the next 80 days, state and Congressional elections will determine if the society is ready to work together. Your votes are the key to build a just nation. Every cookout should feature discussions about these issues. Every classroom should help students understand and engage these conversations. Every family should stand up to restore democracy over the next three months. Then, everyone can stay involved in town council, school district, local police, and county government.
Dr. Walter Greason founded the International Center for Metropolitan Growth and wrote Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey. His work is available on Twitter (@worldprofessor1 /@icmgrowth), LinkedIn, Facebook, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).